Finding Utopias: unlocked conversations beyond a new normality

This year's online edition of maize.LIVE revolves around three words: Time, Trust, and Happiness.


Innovation culture 02 November 2020

We were concentrated on our everyday lives and work, and then something happened. maize.LIVE 2020 was supposed to be the high point of our year: after three editions of experimentation, navigating the tricky world of events, we were ready to reach the pinnacle of our format called maize.LIVE and prepare an astonishing experience at our new H-FARM campus.

Unfortunately, Covid-19 shuffled the cards, and we had to start from scratch. Suddenly, the know-how of organizing an offline event became redundant as we were discussing a future in which normality was the new Utopia, if normality ever existed.

Today, we are facing the opportunity to unlock new conversations and to plan a (new) normality, composed of unachievable but fundamental challenges called Utopias. One of the challenges we face today is how to bring the second row of the choir to the front, giving it a voice and space to share thoughts and emotions without betraying the trust of a public that is looking for conscious advice while facing the instability of a fragile economic scenario. No longer are we willing to sponsor speakers and market dynamics that are incoherent with the fundamental message we are trying to convey.


What is innovation if not chasing after something that doesn’t (yet) exist? We could talk about it as the greatest Utopia of our times: imagining a place that does not yet exist, working to reach it, knowing that it will never be our final destination. Once conquered, we will need another purpose, another fantasy, another motivation.


Utopia: an object of an ideal aspiration which is not susceptible to practical accomplishment.  It was Thomas More who coined the term, which means both a “place that does not exist” and a “good place to be”. On his imaginary island, More places a vision of society, establishes rules that are different from the ordinary, explains habits and functions, and hypothesizes alternative scenarios from fifteenth century England. He does what today we would call future envisioning, a concept which we would define as a fundamental attitude for organizations that want to embrace innovation. A way of thinking rather than a destination, a strategy rather than a result.

2020 was a year that threw reality, in all of its imperative urgency, in our faces: we lived day by day, we focused on extremes, and on the management of enormous, unknown, scary situations. The pandemic magnified all the cavities that were already present in our society and forced us to imagine alternatives. There is still room for thought and imagination, but many of our perceived utopias—those of organizations and even individuals—now sound wretched.

Now that the year is about to end giving us new breathing space, we can return to that precious practice, that attitude that we like so much. Asking big questions to which we can imagine answers that are not only tangible, but also, utopian, because we know that in the capacity to be both concrete and visionary lies the spirit of an innovator, one to whom we can profoundly relate.

A world map that does not include Utopia is not even worthy of a glance, because it leaves out the one place which humanity yearns to conquer. And, when it conquers, humanity looks around, sees a better place and sets sail again. Progress is the making of Utopia.

In the time warp of spring 2020 we did not stop looking for and intercepting signals from the market, society and people: there were and are three recurring words that we have reflected upon since.

Time, Trust and Happiness

We put them at the center of an internal and external debate, asking: What utopias do they represent? Can we control time for our organization and at work? What enables trust and makes it practical as well as ideal? What does being happy really mean?

This edition of maize.LIVE “Finding Utopias: unlocked conversations beyond a new normality” is dedicated to these and other questions: we will address them with the usual desire to connect and exchange experiences, listening to solid points of view and following novel leads for our investigation.

We have created a unique digital experience—forget about the webinars you have attended in the past, and especially during the last few months: we can’t wait to welcome you to our island.

maize.LIVE 2020 online edition is a three-day event, on December 1, 2, and 3 from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. (UTC + 1).